The momentum surrounding the Reynoldsburg High School swimming and diving program last winter continued to build during the offseason.
A season ago, junior Harvey Culbert became the program's first representative in the Division I state meet since 2006, ending up 10th in the 100-yard breaststroke (57.57 seconds) and 21st in the 200 individual medley (1:57.46) at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
His time in the 100 breast broke the program record of 57.59 that he set while earning a runner-up finish in the district meet.
There are 17 boys and 13 girls in the program this season, numbers that please new coach Al Crawford.
Crawford was an assistant the past four seasons under Brian Kocher, who stepped down in the offseason.
"We have our biggest team in a long time," Crawford said. "We've got a freshman boy and two freshmen girls who are very talented, too. Harvey Culbert is a junior who went to state in the 200 IM and the 100 breast, so he's clearly our top swimmer."
Junior Jared Davis was 17th in the 100 breast (1:03.42) and 19th in the 100 butterfly (54.88) at district.
Seniors Alec'zaire Meyers, TaJah Reynolds, Shabhir Tompkins and Tanner Wooddell and junior Justin Barnhart also are key returnees.
Others looking to contribute are senior Ethan Miller, junior Matthew Ufferman and freshman Nate Gaver.
On Dec. 2 in the season-opening St. Charles Showdown, the boys tied Watterson for fourth (162) of 10 teams behind champion Toledo St. Francis (575) and the girls were seventh (70) of nine teams behind champion Toledo St. Ursula (514).
Senior Melissa Herrick and sophomores Bella Hutson-Comeaux and Natalie Theibert are the top returning swimmers for the girls. Junior Anise Hodge and freshmen Sierra Coey and Kasey Lichtner also are key competitors.
Last season at district, 2017 graduates Gabby Caroselli, Abby Hutson-Comeaux and Sara Lichtner joined Theibert on the 200 freestyle relay that was 25th (1:52.57), and Herrick swam with the three seniors on the 200 medley relay that was 27th (2:10.6).
"We're looking for a lot of growth from the girls," Crawford said. "We lost a couple good swimmers, but we've got four other freshmen (in addition to Coey and Kasey Lichtner)."
Wrestlers building depth, experience
With 27 athletes competing, the wrestling program has eight more out than a year ago at this time.
"Last year we started with 19 and finished with 13, so the numbers are improving, which is nice to see," second-year coach Jon Forgy said. "We've got seven returning letterwinners and two who lettered in previous years."
The Raiders have returned a pair of Division I district qualifiers in junior Kyle Copas, who was at 138 pounds last year and now is at 145, and senior Thomas Baire, who is back at heavyweight but is out with an injury until January.
Copas went 20-17 and Baire was 22-14 a year ago.
In a sectional at Upper Arlington, Copas and Nathan Frye (160) were second and Baire was fourth to advance to district.
Frye was a junior who went 33-12 last season but graduated early and is attending the Naval Academy.
Sophomore Luke Goeschel (120) was fifth at sectional at 113 and went 18-17, and classmate Gage Chapman (138) was sixth at sectional at 126.
Other key returnees include seniors Cameron Simpson (160) and Jacob Melendrez (160), junior Gary McCreary (152) and sophomores Noah Ratliff (152) and David Smiley (132). Simpson and Melendrez didn't compete last season but were in the program two years ago.
On Dec. 2 in the Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at Upper Arlington, the Raiders opened by placing ninth (86.5) of 12 teams behind champion Vandalia Butler (272).
Sophomore Aaron Reynolds (126) and freshmen Isaiah Boateng (113) and Dalton Hall (heavy) are others looking to contribute.
Reynoldsburg went 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division last season.
"We have a really good chance to do well in the OCC this year," Forgy said.
"Forfeiting five weight classes like we did last year is not going to win you many matches. We can compete if we stay healthy."
Bowling teams looking for strong seasons
The boys bowling team returns three of its top five players after qualifying for the Division I district tournament a year ago.
Senior Michael Neff-Young and sophomores Logan Gapen and Owen Chisley helped the Raiders earn the last of 20 district-qualifying berths with a 3,519 at sectional. Reynoldsburg then placed 18th (3,697) at district as the top four teams advanced to state.
The Raiders opened with a 1,966-1,904 loss to Pickerington North on Dec. 4 and lost to Pickerington Central 2,014-1,799 on Dec. 5.
"My son, Logan, has stepped up quite a bit," second-year coach Jamie Gapen said. "He was a one-handed player last season but was playing two-handed by the summer. They've all improved since last season. If it all clicks, they're going to have a strong season and I think we can do as well as we did last season."
Senior Michael Brooks also is a returnee.
Senior Davide Milan, an exchange student from Italy, and senior Elijah Ratliff are new to the team. Sophomore David Robinson also is in the lineup.
Senior Michael Mossbarger, who led Reynoldsburg with a 26th-place finish (603) at district, is competing in an adult league rather than at the prep level. Zach Starkey was a key bowler who was lost to graduation.
The girls team opened with a 1,345-876 loss to Central on Dec. 5.
Senior Tyra Hammond, junior Halle Pennycuff and sophomore Kimmie Shook are returnees.
Also on the team are sophomore Kay Hetterscheidt and freshman Katie Morgan.
Paige Gapen, who is a daughter of coach Gapen, was lost to graduation after placing 35th (473) in last year's sectional.
"We still have a long way to go, but they should do well," coach Gapen said.
*Dec. 4 -- Pickerington North at Holiday Lanes
*Dec. 5 -- Pickerington Central at Rule 3
*Dec. 11 -- Centennial at Holiday Lanes
*Dec. 15 -- Hilliard Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 8 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 9 -- Columbus Academy at HP Lanes
*Jan. 10 -- Hilliard Darby at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 19 -- Hilliard Davidson at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 22 -- Groveport at Holiday Lanes
Jan. 23 -- Marysville at Marysville Lanes
*Jan. 26 -- Lancaster at Holiday Lanes
*Jan. 29 -- Thomas Worthington at Holiday Lanes
Feb. 2 -- Gahanna at Holiday Lanes
Feb. 6 -- Grandview at Sawmill Lanes
Feb. 7 -- Whetstone at Holiday Lanes
Feb. 14 -- Bexley at Holiday Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 2 -- St. Charles Showdown
Dec. 9 -- Lancaster at Lancaster YMCA
Dec. 15 -- at St. Charles with DeSales
Dec. 16 -- Ned Reeb Memorial at Ohio State
Dec. 29 -- Big Walnut and Westerville Central at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 6 -- Grove City and Groveport at St. Charles
Jan. 13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton; Teays Valley Invitational at Pickaway County YMCA
Jan. 20 -- Canal Winchester, Hartley and Teays Valley at St. Charles
Jan. 27 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Thomas Worthington
Feb. 2 -- Pickerington Central and Pickerington North at Lancaster YMCA
Dec. 2 -- Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at Upper Arlington
Dec. 7 -- East Side Duals at Watkins Memorial
Dec. 16 -- Xenia Invitational
Dec. 29-30 -- Chagrin Falls Kenston Invitational
Jan. 6 -- Logan Elm Invitational
*Jan. 11 -- at Pickerington North with Pickerington Central
Jan. 20 -- Hamilton Township Invitational
*Jan. 25 -- at Gahanna
Jan. 27 -- Watkins Memorial Invitational
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Lancaster and Grove City
Feb. 10 -- All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg boys basketball and girls basketball teams:
*Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Grove City
Dec. 16 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
*Dec. 15 -- At Grove City